Soa “The Hulk” Palelei is a name most hardcore fans can associate with. With a 7-fight win streak with six of those wins ending in the 1st round and the finishing all seven opponents via KO/TKO, “The Hulk” is quickly becoming a fan favourite in the regional circuit. After a disappointing debut in the UFC, Palelei was released from the organization which forced him to re-evaluate his lifestyle and make drastic changes to improve upon himself as a fighter. He would later go 9-1 in the regional circuit losing only to Strikeforce Grand-Prix champ Daniel Cormier and accumulating thousands of new fans along the way.

“I knew that I had to get myself together and work hard and thats what I did,” Soa told “I began doing crossfit and with that I started to work on my diet. Those two elements alone helped me improve immensely. My diet and training is on par and this was the last thing missing.I also now do a lot of visualizing because I don’t believe you can compete at the best you can be when you’re not mentally trained. Now that i have all these things in order i believe this is what has helped me do as well as I have.”

Palelei understood that a lot of fans were critical about his stamina since he finished fourteen fights in the opening round and has rarely seen the 2nd or 3rd rounds of a bout. Although he understands their reasoning, it is not an area of concern for him with his new training regimen.

“I am 100% with my stamina. That is not an issue,” he assured. “I refuse to let it go to the judges when it comes to my fights. I hold my destiny not the judges and I will end the fight at the first opportunity I get. I have a job to do and thats to go in there and get a win. So many fighters miss out on some well deserved wins because the match ends up the judges hands and it goes the other way and I don’t ever want that to happen.”

Soa is often criticized for the quality of his opposition since the most notable fighter he has faced since his loss to Daniel Cormier was Bob Sapp back in May. He has a simple philosophy when dealing with fan and media criticism, which involves an understanding that “everyone is going to have an opinion and not everyone will be happy for your success, thats just life.” As far as he was concerned, unless you have fought in a cage, you are not really aware of what it takes to be an MMA fighter.

“I train hard and I work hard at every aspect and it’s working. I will continue to do what I must in order to keep succeeding.”

When asked about the rumours circulating about his potential UFC return in Australia for UFC on FX 6, Palelei refused to offer a clear answer regarding the rumour.

“At this stage I cant say anything, we’ll just have to wait and see,” he said. “I can say that I have worked hard and to be able to fight for the UFC would be an honour. I’d like to show everyone what the real hulk is all about.”

Whilst this may be the case, Soa made no secret about his interest in returning to the UFC whenever the offer arose.

“Yes i would like to return to the UFC,” he confirmed. “I’ve had a goal for the last three years and that was to be able to get a chance to go back into the elusive octagon that is the UFC. I’m a strong believer that everything happens for a reason, and I guess when the time is right it will happen.”

Soa also detailed the decision to not fight in the standout Asian promotion One FC, stating that he was pressured to sign a five fight deal.

“I was set to fight but then was told that I couldn’t fight if I didn’t sign a five fight deal,” he revealed.”My goal has always been the UFC, everyone knows that. I could not risk locking myself into a five fight deal and miss out on the opportunity to be in the UFC should something come up. OneFC is a great organization but i’ve been working hard towards one thing and I will continue to do so until it happens.”

Palelei is currently scheduled to face Sean McCorkle at the Australian Fighting Championships (AFC) on December 7th. When asked about the match-up, Palelei was quick to show respect to his opponent but also made his intentions very clear come fight night.

“I respect McCorkle, he’s very talented,” he said.”I have my game plan and i will have to keep that to myself. I have a great team that i work with and my camp is full force at the moment.This is the hurt game there is only two of us in there and only one will be the winner, I go in there wanting that win, I wont let anyone take that away from me.”

“You’ll all have to keep your eyes peeled and see what happens,” Soa explained. “I don’t want to give anything away, except that a lot of people what been surprised that “The Hulk” has more tricks up his sleeve.”

Follow Karim Zidan (@TheFlyingKneeTO) for all the latest MMA news and updates.

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